You can’t keep a good man down: Pete Fijalkowski former frontman for two of England’s finest, yet criminally ignored bands Adorable and Polak, answers my email inquisitions about those bands and his solo album Broken Heart Surgery.
For the record when did The Candy Thieves become Adorable was it September 1990 as indicated in Footnotes?
I think it was September 1990. The first Adorable gig was in Coventry at the Tic Toc club on the night that the first Gulf War started in January 1991. Robert dropped his guitar two-thirds of the way through the gig, and it broke, so he smashed up the guitar and he didn’t have a spare so we had to stop the gig there and there. I remember going home after the gig and watching live coverage of the war starting.
Against Perfection and Fake are long out of print, are there any plans to re-issue the albums?
No plans as far as I know to release the two albums as individual releases. (Ed – Again comment on this article or email Cherry Red if you want these classic albums to be re-issued)
Footnotes‘ “Crash Site” was labelled “Crash Sight” on Against Perfection. Which is the correct wording? Or is meant to be interchangeable?
That’s me forgetting how it was written! I think it should be “Crash Sight”. I lose track of some of my own puns sometimes.
Can you name which Adorable band member was about to jump out of a window after an argument with you (“Kangaroo Court”, Footnotes)?
Careful negotiations during the liner-notes session meant that I could only get the story in if the member was not named. It was also agreed that everyone else will deny it was them.
Who’s inspired idea was it to call it Footnotes and have actual footnotes in the booklet?
All the good ideas are always mine. All the bad ones are always someone else’s* We thought that seeing as there will never be a book about the band, unless we go through some incredible Velvet Underground re-appraisal thirty years down the line, then it would be nice to have a definitive story of the band. We wanted the comments not to be celebratory as many liner notes are, but to accurately reflect what it was like to be in Adorable, warts and all, and reflect the tensions as well as the highs and lows.
Obviously Footnotes features all the A-sides but how were the album tracks and B-sides chosen?
We all put in our tuppence worth and more or less came up with the same titles. Space constraints meant we couldn’t put everything on a single disc. “Road Movie” and I think “Magnificent Obsession” which is a particular favourite of Kevin’s were two that almost squeezed on, but got pushed out of the over-crowded bed.
Polak – “Nobody’s Cowboy Song” (Swansongs, 2000)
Have Polak official called it quits? What are the other Polak ex-bandmates doing now and do you keep in touch?
Polak are no more. I can’t actually remember the date.
Krzys (Fijalkowski, guitar) teaches Art History at Norwich School of Art and The University of East Anglia. He sometimes does visitng lectures at the Tate Modern — he’s a Doctor of Surrealism. Bob (Brown, bass) is a graphic designer in London and plays in a band called Shrag. Chris Parsons (drums) is a gardener and plays with Milk and Honey Band, and also drums for Astrid Williamson. Simon Dunford is a press officer for University of East Anglia. Matt Sigley (keyboards) went back to Australia and plays for various bands — including his own Daytime Frequency project and The Lovetones. Richard Brinklow (keyboards) composes music for TV, and fronts his own brilliant John The Savage.
I’m in touch with them all.
After Polak’s second album Rubbernecking do you feel slightly cursed that any musical project you do will only yield two under appreciated records?
Polak went the other way round from Adorable in that I think the better album was the second one. It was frustrating that Rubbernecking never even picked up any reviews. I wouldn’t mind it if people had listened to it and didn’t like it, but I feel no-one actually ever heard it.
We were offered a third album by One Little Indian but by that time we were down to a three piece (Chris, Bob and myself) and everyone was so up to their eyeballs in debt that there was no chance we’d be able to promote the album at all, so we decided to call it a day. We had recorded a couple of tracks that sounded good — a lot more direct, slightly spikey tracks with Bob on guitar. It would have been interesting, but we decided to quit while we were behind.
Polak – “Bar Angel” (Rubbernecking, 2002)
You’ve mentioned you’ve recorded at least one solo album. Is this going to get a release? You’ve mentioned it sounds like “diet-Johnny Cash”, could you elaborate? How has the lyric writing process changed over the 20 odd years you’ve been writing songs?
I think maybe the solo abum will become a private secret. I recorded it some while back, and it’s very down beat (it’s called Broken Heart Surgery‘ which gives you some idea of where it’s coming from) and played it to half a dozen people. I haven’t sent it out to any labels, maybe it’s the fear of rejection, or maybe it’s the height of laziness. I’d like it to come out as I want to move on.*
I’m half way through recording solo album #2 which is the polar opposite — full band vibe, all very upbeat. Working title is Up’s the New Down. I think my lyric writing has moved on a lot from what it once was — more direct and less oblique.
You played live at the Sonic Cathedral last year and there’s a YouTube clip of you playing “A to Fade In”. Did you play any other Adorable or Polak songs? You’ve played some dates more recently how did those go? Have you plans for any more shows?
That was the only Adorable song at that gig. I played the Christmas party for the AC30 club in London in 2007 which was really enjoyable, except for the last song, “Homeboy”, which was quite possibly the worst performance I have ever done of a song. Quite how I managed to screw up one of simplest songs ever written I will never know! If ever arse-in-gear is ever achieved with Broken Heart Surgery then some solo gigs might follow.
* Terms and conditions apply
Pete Fijalkowski – “A to Fade In” (Live)